edited on trail
Greetings from Cabazon, California – the trail has treated me well so far and I’m happy to say that minus a few blisters I am happy, healthy and probably a little bit dirty. With over two weeks and 209 miles under my Chaco belt, I can safely say (while knocking on wood) that I might just be getting used to this thru-hiking business.
When I first set off for this endeavor my pack was a bit heavier at the get-go. While the sang “every ounce counts” was in my mind planning for the trip, not until I started hiking 50,000+ steps a day across a deserty southern California did I realize how important packing lightly is. Within these first two sections I have managed to give away or send home enough gear to make my sore shoulders a little less sagging at the end of each day.
Speaking of 50,000+ step days, within the past few treks I have managed to hit 20+ miles on more than a few days, which considering the terrain, desert heat and my personal belongings on my back, it’s a feat that I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished.
Even more so, hitting 20 miles in a day is definitely a task, but doing it back-to-back-to-back-to-back multiple days in a row has taught me (and my feet) a valuable lesson about life; it’s not the nail that gets you, it’s the relentless down stroke of the hammer that shuts the lid on the coffin.
As a direct result of that hammer swinging down, my feet now resemble either one giant blister or a classic-movie mummy depending on what time of day you catch me. My feet require constant vigilance, and while I’m definitely exaggerating about the size and intensity of my blisters, it’s no joke that my feet are literally taking a beating and a half on this trip and I’m expecting full-blown hobbit feet when this trek is done and over with.
A major highlight so far has been a slight detour from the traditional PCT path to climb the reportedly 2nd tallest peak in southern California, Mount San Jacinto. Standing above 10,000 feet, San Jacinto was a brilliant display of rugged beauty, and while the climb up was rewarding (and deep-breath inducing), it was the 20-mile, one-day descent to the desert floor that ultimate led to the majority of the above mentioned blisters.
San Jacinto surely provided big views, rocky descents, an eye-widening sleet filled thunderstorm and 100 degree desert floor heat, all adding up to an experience I’ll never forget.
If I had to guess a small measure of success for my thru-hike this early in the game, it would have to be the community that surrounds me on trail. Although I came to California by myself, I wouldn’t have made is this far alone, and I’m very grateful to the trail angels and particularly my fellow hikers who have struggled, succeeded and joked with along the entire trail so far.
Finally, as I’m learning with each silent footstep along the trail, is that the wilderness doesn’t provide any answers to those classic life questions were always asking, it does provide the right scenery to hear them. As it turns out, those answers of what to do next, where you’re going to sleep that night and what’s around each corner are already inherently within me. Once that hustle & bustle of everyday life in the “civilized” world seems to subside into the tranquil sounds of your own footsteps in the wild, those answers are a lot easier to hear within yourself, and with over 2,000 miles to go for my own journey, I’m all ears the entire rest of the way.
Over and Out,